Behind the scenes: MBFF preparation

shopping in brisbane Tengdahl

When the models hit the runway at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival next month for the launch of my S/S collection, freesoul, it will be the culmination of a 10-month process that has taken me literally around the world.

I first showed my label on the runway at the RAQ awards in 1996 and while I have streamlined the collection development process over the past two decades, the months leading up to MBFF always bring the sense of vulnerability and self-doubt that inevitably comes with being exposed on a creative level.

At this time every year, I reflect on my purpose as a designer: am I challenging myself? Am I doing my clients justice with this collection? Am I being innovative while staying true to my roots, my brand? It’s facing a fear of rejection or criticism; it leaves you open and exposed, but it makes you stronger.

Creativity doesn’t thrive in the comfort zone! I do my best work when I'm on the precipice - I have clarity and ideas seem to flow. 

Which is why, in the midst of the 2014 collection’s development, I went skydiving. The skydive was a birthday gift I received last year; something on my bucket list that I had put off, waiting for the right moment. As the plane climbed high above the beautiful northern NSW landscape, I didn’t experience any of the nerves or tension that I expected to feel, just pure adrenaline. Completely surrendering to the free fall, I felt suprisingly safe.

Julie Tengdahl skydiving

julie tengdahl fashion designers brisbane

It was a truly exhilarating experience, and it was interesting to notice how clear and creative I felt returning to the workroom the following Monday to put the finishing touches on the collection samples.

The collection development process began in my West End workroom in October 2013. Following a successful collaboration with acclaimed Brisbane artist Jacqui Conias in 2013, I wanted to interlace a limited edition range of bespoke prints into the 2014 collection, featuring digital reproductions of emerging artist Claudia Husband’s hypnotic prints. I was thrilled to have Claudia on board and we began looking at ways to integrate symbolism and her existing prints into fabric patterns earlier this year.

brisbane fashion designer textile claudia husband artist  fashion art collaboration claudia husband julie tengdahl

I set off on a global resourcing and ‘trend-gathering’ trip to Europe, while working with the world’s oldest lace mill – Sophie Hallette – to create a bespoke lace design exclusively for Tengdahl’s S/S collection. Three months later, I fulfilled a life long dream to have an Indian sabbatical, venturing off for four weeks of meditation, exploration and meetings with local artisans, learning about their ancient craft traditions and collecting beautiful hand loomed embroidery in vibrant colours.

australian fashion designer spring summer collection

Back in my workroom, and filled with experiences, observations and inspirations gathered on my travels, the collection’s direction began to crystallise. Its aesthetic is rich, sensual, exotic and a tapestry of cultures and design elements. It’s bold but earthy and more exuberant than my past two collections. And I love it!

MBFF spring summer photo shoot planning tengdahl australia

Meanwhile, Claudia returned with some beautiful textile print concepts, which we finalised and sent off to our Australian fabric manufacturer to have strike-offs created. Our talented pattern maker and seamstress Heather began to meticulously lift traditional embellishments and embroidery from the artisan fabrics I had collected on my travels, transferring them onto the luxury European fabrics that had arrived along with our new bespoke Sophie Hallette lace (which I have been wearing in our concept designs for a few months now and absolutely adore)! These elements combined to form the freesoul collection.

brisbane fashion label

As we near the date for our S/S photo shoot and MBFF model fittings, the collection is nearly completed and, once again, I am enchanted by the process that brought these designs from vague imaginings to beautiful, wearable pieces something which almost seems to happen of its own volition, as though I am both a bystander and active participant in its evolution.

samantha cannon julie tengdahl dallys models MBFF

Above: Julie briefs the face of her S/S14 collection, Samantha Cannon, on the collection ahead of the freesoul campaign shoot  

The response to my MBFF collections in recent years has been incredible, and I must admit to feeling the pressure of a high bar this year! But I am so proud of the creative integrity and melting-pot of local talents that have gone into creating it. And in that respect, it is already a success. Breathe…

Artisan details

white wool jacket embroidered

designer jacket Australian made Tengdahl

           

Julie bought a series of beautiful artisan cashmere scarves while she was in Jaipur, India - each a peice of art featuring hand loomed embroidery in vibrant colours.

Our workroom manager, Heather, has meticulously lifted the embroidery peices from the scarves and transfered them to our new A/W jacket, forming the detail on Julie's new Audrey weave jacket design. The embroidery injects vibrant colour, texture and shows how beautifully east and western design aesthetic can be merged.

Inspired by the classic Chanel jacket shape - with a modern twist through body-shaping side panels - the embroidered jacket is a limited edition peice, and each design is different as no two scarves are exactly the same. The jacket is available at our Emporium store for $829 (call 3257 0569) and can be purchased by phone and couriered overnight. 

Love, work and play

julie tengdahl australian fashion designer

Julie Tengdahl fashion designer luxury style

Whether you are embarking on your own journey of motherhood or you’re just planning to lavish your own mother with lots of love this weekend, mothers are a part of our history, biology and often have lots to teach us.

This month Emporium Connecte caught up with fashion designer, businesswoman and mother, Julie Tengdahl, to discuss career, motherhood and just how to juggle it all…

What do you love most about what you do?

After 30 years I still get a thrill from being on the shop floor; seeing how clients interact and respond to designs, and tailoring the collections to suit them. Whether I’m in the workroom sketching a design, or at one of the stores styling a client, the power of making a woman feel truly beautiful has never lost its joy for me. This career has offered me the chance to travel, meet amazing people and constantly channel my creativity into something tangible.

Why did you start in your industry?

My mother was a seamstress and some of my first memories are of playing beneath her sewing machine, collecting remnants of fabric. After school I studied fashion design at MSIT. I worked in fashion design in London and when I returned to Australia I took a job as an aerobics instructor while trying to establish myself in the Brisbane fashion industry. I noticed active wear at the time was boring so I created a range of sports wear for my aerobics class, and when sales took off, the range funded my first collection as a fashion designer.

You are a Mother, Business owner and a Woman, how do you fuse these roles together and maintain balance?

At work, I have adopted a business model that suits my ideal life balance. When I’m at home with family, I try to be present and accessible, while also encouraging their independence and autonomy. I’ve also surrounded myself with incredibly capable women who take my breath away with their balancing abilities. And I avoid burn-out by having time to myself occasionally; anything from a quick yoga session on the Kangaroo Point cliffs as the sun rises on a Sunday morning – through to an overseas sabbatical like the one I just completed in India. As a family we support each other through the ups and downs, and encourage each other to pursue whatever brings fulfilment and happiness as individuals. My relationships with each child has evolved as they’ve grown older, and now that my two eldest children are pursuing their own careers I love hearing their thoughts about the business, and drawing inspiration from their creative contributions to the label as well.

How has being a mother helped you in the way you run your business?

After having children I developed a more intuitive approach to designing and managing my business. I backed myself and trusted my ‘gut instinct’ more than I had before. My decisions are clearer, I am more efficient in my use of time and I have a better grasp of the big picture. I don’t dwell on the insignificant stuff that would have had me obsessing or stressing at work in the past. Rather than holding us back or making us complacent, I think this perspective actually makes it easier to take risks, because as long as your family are happy and healthy, there’s nothing much in life to fear. Fashion design can be very egocentric, very tense, so letting go of that fear has meant I’ve done things that I wouldn’t have otherwise done if I hadn’t relinquished the pressure I placed on ‘proving’ myself.

What is the most surprising thing you have discovered about yourself since becoming a mother?

A level of confidence that I never had before. Bravado and self-doubt was replaced by a deeper belief in myself. Motherhood highlights how little we know – and yet simultaneously how much we are capable of, and how much we have to offer our community.

What are your tips for women who are juggling career and motherhood?

It gets easier. Follow your intuition; both at work and at home. And let go of the expectation that life, motherhood, work, relationships are meant to be simultaneously perfect. Enjoy the crazy, ever-changing, imperfectness of it all.

What has been your proudest career achievement?

Keeping garment production in Brisbane. The label is still produced in our West End workroom, by local dressmakers and machinists. The financial cost of producing locally is outweighed by the fact that it keeps jobs in the local fashion industry and enables me to be responsive to the feedback and needs of my clients. It also means I can retain high quality standards, have a quick turn around and stay in control of my supply chain - ensuring all garments and their materials are sourced and produced ethically. I am so proud that the label is still 100% Australian made.

Emporium logo fortitude valley brisbane luxury shopping Define your style…

My style has multiple personality disorder! I dress to reflect different aspects of my identity as a woman; some days it is feminine and elegant, other days it is practical and perfunctory – or sensual, bold and colourful. It always has to be effortless, comfortable, simple and thoughtfully designed!

Click here to read the full article. Republished with permission. 

bespoke lace for new dress design

Sophie hallette fashion design Tengdahl

Tengdahl has collaborated with the world's oldest lace mill - Sophie Hallette, in France - to create a bespoke stretch lace series for Julie Tengdahl's new Sophie dress.

           Tengdahl sophie hallette evening lace dress black  Tengdahl white lace dress sophie hallette

Founded 120 years ago by Eugene Hallette, the Caudry-based lace mill fell into the hands of Eugene's wife when he suddenly died in 1898. At the time it was called 'Etablissements Veuve Eugene Hallette ('Widow Eugene Hallette's Company').

Under her management, the mill thrived and was passed onto Ettienne Hallette, who expanded the company and opened its Paris office in 1967. He renamed the brand 'Sophie' after his neice.

Sophie Hallette tengdahl australian designer Sophie Hallette lace mill

Over the past century, generations of craftspeople have worked Sophie Hallette's looms, weaving delicate lace and tulle from several thousand miles of thread, 5,000 shuttles and 12 tons of cast iron. Commissioned by fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior and Alexander McQueen, Sophie Hallette lace has come to represent the pinacle of lace manufacturing.

Sophie Hallette is now managed by the third generation of Hallette owners. Combining its rich tradition and expertise with modern methods of production, the lace house holds true to its artistic craftsmanship, with post-production quality checks taking up to 15 hours of meticulous examination a single peice of lace.

        Brisbane designer Tengdahl sophie hallette lace        Kate Middleton Sophie Hallette lace

After nearly 30 years of using the mill's lace in her designs, Julie Tengdahl began working with Sophie Hallette designers in 2013 to sketch a lace that would suit the Australian climate and provide the flexibility and wearability Australian women desire in their clothes. 

sophie hallette lace mill tengdahl australian fashion

The lace was then hand loomed in Sophie Hallette's antique Caudry mill and arrived in Australia, exclusive to Tengdahl, in March 2014. The lace appears in Julie's current A/W14 collection, in the form of the Sophie dress (pictured above and below).  

Own a little peice of Sophie Hallette history here

 Pia Du Pradal, Dale Olssen, Julie Tengdahl

Pia du Pradal, Dale Olsson and Julie Tengdahl (far right) wearing the Sophie Hallette Dress at the Uncovering The Brisbane Look launch. Photo: Warren Jopson 

Julie's India Journey

australian fashion designer Julie Tengdahl in India

Tengdahl Australia designer Julie in indiaJulie Tengdahl india sabbatical fashion designer Indian women fashion designer Julie tengdahl visit IndiaIndian textiles fabric australian fashion designer tengdahl

Last month I set off to India for a trip that has mixed business with a personal journey. I am currently writing from an Ashram in Jaipur. On the design front, I am here to meet with textile designers and organisations that provide local women with opportunities to use their traditional skills to have financial autonomy through fashion design and manufacturing. Amidst the terrible stories of slave labour and substandard working conditions that we have heard of recently, my Australian friends who work in India have urged me to come over and see the ‘other side’ of female-focused industries.

There is a growing awareness amongst organisations over here that they must provide women with opportunities to use their talents in a safe, fair and financially rewarding environment. While these businesses only comprise a small segment of the overall manufacturing industry, my hope is that with growing awareness in western countries, they can create a demand for ethically made textiles and garments.

If there is a demand for ethically produced fashion, and western businesses and consumers are willing to pay for it, the Indian industry will improve working conditions and remuneration in order to obtain the lucrative western contracts. Amongst some beautiful artisan pieces, I will be brining back some amazing fabric made by women in Bangalore, and cashmere shawls from the tribes of Rajasthan; known as ‘the land of Kings’. Each piece is unique - I can’t wait to share them.

TEngdahl Australia india fashion designer brisbane Yoga India yogi Julie Tengdahl brisbane fashion designer India Julie tengdahl brisbane australia fashion designer Julie Tengdahl ashram india brisbane women eat pray love

Between work meetings I have had the opportunity to see the other side of Indian life. My current stay in an Ashram has involved 4 hours of yoga each day, as well as chanting and meditation. Sheryas, another Ashram that I stayed at outside Bangalore, was like a scene from Eat Pray Love. Having just finished A/W and in the process of launching into preparations for the S/S range and Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival, this time has been an invaluable opportunity to switch off to the noise of everyday life and restore the energy that, as women, we constantly give to others.

Much has been written about the female sabbatical recently (both personal and professional types) and I’m glad it is moving past the typecast of self-indulgent western whim. Women are givers, carers, lovers and nurturers. But often, very little is left for them - until it’s too late. Emotional or mental breakdown, or physical illness, often present themselves. Sometimes we care too much about what others think; worried that we’ll seem selfish for taking a short time out for reflection or to nurture ourselves. While staying in a country filled with women who often have to fight for the right to education, fair employment, reproductive rights or the ability to just walk the street safely, we’re able to put our concerns of day-to-day life in perspective, while also appreciating how far women in many countries still have to fight on a grass roots level to achieve equality.

Most of all, India has shown me the magnificence of the female spirit; it’s ability to endure and love through adversity, to show strength and resilience while pushing boundaries and slowly but surely forcing our communities to cherish and value all we have to offer. With the support of their communities and the international community, the women in India have a future of prosperity and power. We can’t hide from the beauty of the world or the raw honesty of a country such as this. It’s visceral and captivating; provoking internal reflection, and external observation.

Julie xx

Lift, love, accentuate your assets

Liu Jo Jeans Denim Tengdahl fashion

Italian denim label Liu Jo has landed at Tengdahl! 

Loved by scores of celebrities - including Kate Moss - for their stellar fit, Liu Jo Jeans feature integrated stretch silicone to help lift and shape the bottom. It's a world class innovation, available at Tengdahl now. 

Kate Moss Liu Jo Jeans Denim Julie tengdahl designer Liu Jo denim jeans good fit bottom lift Tengdahl Liu Jo designer denim jeans Tengdahl fashion Liu Jo denim jeans stockist Australia stockists Tengdahl fashion

The L shaped silicone bands work to push up and hold in the bottom, while still having enough stretch to be perfectly comfortable. 

This new design feature is enhanced by an already figure loving jean, with careful pocket placement and various denim washes to further compliment and accentuate natural curves and flatter all body shapes. 

We are ADDICTED! 

Do you LOVE your workwear?

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What rejuvenates you?

Tengdahl spring summer fashion brisbane designer

We're back from holidays, refreshed and excited about the year that lies ahead! The Tengdahl team's festive break took us from sun-soaked backyard parties and scorched afternoons cooled by cocktails - through to strolling the Boulevard Saint Germain and skiing in France. Irrespective of what we did or where we were, we all agreed on one thing; holidays give us time to decompress and be open to inspiration. Sometimes it can be difficult to tap into our creativity and harness inspiration, with the 'admin' of life charging along at break neck speed! So during our holidays, we took time out to seek inspiration in everyday things, as well as the magnificent moments, to fuel our creative pursuits for the year ahead. Here's a little peek at the things we got up to over the break...

Tengdahl holiday wear luxury travel clothes

JULIE

Paris inspires like no other city; for 20 years I've been coming here to relax, recharge and reset my sights on the next 12 months of creativity for Tengdahl. This year was extra special as I combined my annual trip with a family holiday. Even one of the most magical cities on earth seems all that more poignant when shared with loved ones, and as I soaked in the sights and my favourite back-street experiences with them, I saw this beautiful place through different eyes. Brett, Bridgette, Jemma and Anders and I then spent some time freshening up our skiing skills in Val-d'lsere.  Before I got on the plane to return home, I began sketching out the direction for our A/W2014 - can't wait to share it!   

Brisbane fashion designer Tengdahl

DEB, BRISBANE ARCADE STORE MANAGER 

My memories of this summer will be filled with long days of dancing, cocktails and celebrations with family and friends. A particular highlight was catching up with some close friends for my dearest girlfriend's special birthday celebration. All three of us in this photo (top left) are wearing colour coordinated Tengdahl...of course! 

Australian designer fashion

RENEA, EMPORIUM STORE MANAGER 

I spent my holidays amongst a full house of loved ones, pets and renovations! I didn't have much down time these holidays, but it was surprisingly rejuvenating, just enjoying the luxury of unlimited time with the special people in my life. The photo in the top left shows me with my beloved mum (wearing my sequinned Tengdahl Christmas top!).My stepfather passed away last year and this was my mother's first Christmas without him; it made me more consciously appreciate how beautiful these cherished times are with family and friends.

What rejuvenated and inspired you during the festive break?  

Our new Australian made bikini

After 30 years of designing, I am excited to share with you my first swimwear design! The bikini is a tribute to the first collection I ever designed (way, way back...). It was an active wear range that I created during my time as an aerobics instructor, back in the 80's when I was establishing my career as a young fashion graduate. Fast forward three decades, and an upcoming trip to Qualia at Hamilton Island inspired me to create a bikini I could wear on my getaway. The fabric features the special Jacqui Conias fabric I have written about on this blog previously, with the dots comprised of tiny digital reproductions of Jacqui's beautiful artwork. 

I wanted the top to ensure the wearer feels comfortable, confident and is able to move around and have fun while wearing it, without worrying about fallout or slippage! While retaining the classic sexy triangle string bikini shape, I designed the top with this is mind, merging the triangle cup with a halterneck shape, ensuring the strap width extends above the collarbone.

I love wearing it with my Gypsy silk maxi, Gemma Sequin Cami, Silk Georgette Poncho and Silk Georgette Kimino. Shop the limited edition design here

Tengdahl Spring Racewear Styling Parties

Stuck for something to wear to your Melbourne Cup event this year? Tengdahl's annual racewear styling parties are a stress-free, quick and fun way to put together your entire spring racing look in one location, with free styling assistance from three of Brisbane's racewear experts.

Brisbane fashion designer Julie Tengdahl, jewellery designer Paula Hall and The Hat Box milliner Dale Olssen will join forces to provide one-on-one racewear advice to help you select the perfect outfit for your spring racing event this year.

Held at the Tengdahl Emporium and Brisbane Arcade stores, these styling sessions promise an easy and enjoyable spring fashion experience, providing free access to the most sought after advice from Brisbane’s veteran fashion designers and drawing from decades of experience dressing award winning race goers, celebrities, politicians and style leaders.

Feel free to pop in during your lunch break, grab a glass of champagne, view our fashion parade and get personalised styling from some of Brisbane's leading fashion designers. 

fashion designer brisbane racewear julie tengdahl

Racewear rules: Julie's styling tips 

  • Look for longevity! Invest in an outfit that can be worn for other purposes, many times over for years to come.
  • From your shoes to your dress and all the way up to your hat, whatever you wear should be comfortable and well-crafted.
  • racewear designer brisbaneIf a garment doesn’t fit properly, not only will you be repositioning straps, adjusting necklines and pulling on uncomfortable seams all day you also won’t gravitate towards wearing it again, hence you won’t get value from your investment.
  • Spring racing is less about following ‘trends’, and more about ‘enduring style’. Select a classic cut and inject a modern edge through the use of colour, prints, accessories or embellishments.
  • Consider the overall look. Whether you are buying a new dress or wearing something that’s already in your wardrobe, have it on hand when you select your headwear, jewels and shoes. It’s all about the entire look, rather than just individual pieces.
  • The spring racing carnival tradition is a perfect excuse to indulge in the ritual of ‘dressing up’, looking elegant and ladylike. Opt for mid, knee or calf length hemlines or make a statement with a pant suit or maxi skirt not a mini dress.
  • Be confident; whether you are aspiring for a fashions on the field position, or just sitting down to lunch with your girlfriends, your best accessory will always be an elegant sense of confidence!